Aviva Kempner, Executive Producer/Director of the new documentary Rosenwald, joined Roland Martin on NewsOne Now to discuss the movie and Julian Bond’s involvement in the film.
Rosenwald chronicles the philanthropy of Julius Rosenwald, who was Sears President from 1908–1924 and chairman of the company from 1924-1932. As a result of Rosenwald’s philanthropic efforts and commitment to education, he was responsible for building over 5,000 schools targeting African-Americans in the Jim Crow South.
About Rosenwald from www.rosenwaldfilm.org:
… Rosenwald, a documentary on the incredible story of how businessman and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald joined with African-American communities in the South to build schools for them during the early part of the 20th century. This historical partnership as well as the modern-day attempts to maintain or reconfigure the schools is a great dramatic story, yet too little-known.
Rosenwald’s philanthropy took a dramatic turn after reading accounts by African-American thinkers. Booker T. Washington’s accomplishments parallel what Rosenwald had achieved. Washington approached Julius Rosenwald in 1912 to assist in funding a program in line with Washington’s belief of self-help for African-American southerners that emphasized economic advancement through vocational education. Rosenwald spurred the establishment of 25 YMCA-YWCAs to serve African-Americans in cities across the U.S., including the Wabash Avenue YMCA in Chicago. (Existing Y’s at the time served only whites.) In addition, he established one of the nation’s first housing projects on Chicago’s South Side.
Rosenwald’s greatest accomplishment is the establishment of challenge grants, seeded for the creation of more than 5,500 schools for poor, rural African-American children in southern states at a time when few received any public education. From 1915 to 1932, 660,000 rural southern African-American students benefited from an initiative that truly speaks to The American Dream. The story of the partnership between Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington is perhaps the most compelling one of our time.
According to the documentary’s director, Aviva Kempner, the development and production of Rosenwald spanned the course of twelve years and is considered to be one of the late civil rights icon Julian Bond‘s last projects.
In an exclusive with NewsOne Now, Kempner shared a message from Bond’s wife, Pamela Horowitz, announcing on Saturday there will be a small ceremony in Florida near where he passed away, and at 4 PM EST, she will put Bond’s ashes to sea.
Bond’s widow is asking that everyone spread flowers over any water nearby, take a photo of it, and post to social media using the hashtag #honoringJulianBond.
Watch Roland Martin and Aviva Kempner discuss the Rosenwald documentary and its significance in the struggle for equality in America in the video clip above.
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